One of the most challenging parts of mobile application development is testing. iOS and Android mobile apps need to be tested on a wide range of devices from various manufacturers and form factors with different operating system versions to ensure compatibility and stability.
From iPhone SE to iPhone 11 Pro or from a Samsung Galaxy to a Xiaomi Redmi Note, the mobile apps must be compatible with many different mobile devices.
Testing a mobile application on physical devices can be virtually impossible due to the large number of different devices being used all around the world. This leaves a mobile development team with only two options to test mobile applications on mobile phones or tablets, which are simulators and emulators.
What is the difference between Simulators and Emulators for Mobile App Development?
While they look (and sound) similar, mobile device simulators and emulators have distinct differences.
- Emulators imitate the software and the hardware environments of the target mobile devices while simulators provide only software environment imitation and they use the host system’s hardware resources such as processors, memory and network connectivity
- Emulators are better for debugging purposes but simulators won’t be much use for debugging your mobile application
- Emulators usually act slower than simulators since they imitate the hardware of the mobile device when simulators are software-based
- A good example of a mobile device emulator is Google Android SDK. A good example of a mobile device simulator is Apple’s iOS Simulator.
Emulators imitate the software and the hardware environments of the target mobile devices. (i.e. Running an authentic ARM architecture on an x86 environment.) Simulators, on the other hand, provide only software environment imitation and they use the host system’s hardware resources such as processors, memory and network connectivity. (i.e. running iOS and Android directly on an x86 environment.)
Android in that sense is an open platform and you can run Android emulators on any desktop operating system whether macOS or Windows; however things are more complicated if you are looking to download an iOS emulator. Emulating iOS hardware is not just limited by Apple’s license agreements (e.g. Xcode on Windows is not directly possible), but also there are certain technical challenges toward iPhone emulators.
Appcircle can help you test your mobile application on your web browser by providing you a web-based, in-browser, iOS simulator, which is the closest you can get to an online iPhone emulator on Windows, macOS, Linux or any other desktop OS.
Appcircle offers various simulation options for the device, screen size and operating system versions for iOS and Android which gives you a broad range of selection to test your mobile applications. You don’t even need to download any large emulator stacks, you can run and test your mobile apps in the cloud.
Having access to a number of iPhone, iPad and Android mobile and tablet devices online lets you make sure your application will function as expected if you have a specific audience using a specific form factor and operating system combination.
Mobile applications that are built with Appcircle’s build module can be previewed on a device emulator or simulator instantly with a single click. You can test the native functionality of your applications without the need for using a real device.
If you have an application that was built earlier, you can simply upload your compatible application binary file (built with x86 architecture on Android or the simulator binary for Xcode) to Appcircle’s distribution module and preview the application on a mobile device emulator on a web browser for Android or on a mobile device simulator for iOS.